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May 27, 2024

The Fates Will Find Their Way: Book Review

By Wendy Robards

The Fates Will Find Their Way, by Hannah Pittard.

Our only limitation was our imagination, and that school year -- and every school year after -- our imaginations seemed to grow, to outdo what we'd ever believed possible. We outran our wildest fantasies. That is, until Nora Lindell went missing, and the only fantasy we could ever conjure suddenly involved her or some aspect of her, like her little sister. - from The Fates Will Find Their Way, page 50 -

In a small, suburban American town, life goes on -- friendships, gossip, failing marriages, sibling rivalries, urban myths, births and deaths. Nora Lindell, a sixteen year old who has captured the imagination of the boys in town, disappears one Halloween night. Her disappearance informs the lives of not only the boys who have fantasized about her, but her younger sister who is left to fill the void. As the years unspool, all the characters grow up, marrying (or not), finding their place in life -- except for Nora, whose life is only left to be imagined.

The Fates will Find Their Way explores the idea of self-realization. It examines the inevitability of life and its predictable and unpredictable path as we move from childhood innocence to cynical adulthood.

Certain outcomes are unavoidable, invariable, absolutely unaffectable, and yet completely unpredictable. Certain outcomes are that way. But maybe not Nora's. Maybe she was the only one who escaped; who had the chance to become something not completely inevitable. Maybe. Or maybe she died when she was sixteen years old in a snowstorm that overtook her, in a foreign grouping of trees, close to the water, a mere two counties over. - from The Fates Will Find Their Way, page 142 -

Hannah Pittard creates characters with fully realized lives in just over 200 pages. Narrated in the collective voices of the boys who knew Nora, the novel is a meditation on growing up, and the future in front of us which gradually warps into the present infused by our past. Pittard asks the tough questions in this debut novel: How does our past shape our future? Do we ever really know the people around us? Are we the architects of our lives, or does fate play a larger role?

Pittard captures what might have been through the disappearance of Nora -- has Nora escaped a future of inevitability, or has she missed the small unexpected joys which infuse our lives?

It's hard not to want to let out a full-on yell, something primal and guttural, as if an untamed sound alone could describe the simple relief that we are here, that we are alive. Standing at the edge of the ocean, watching a sinking ship in a storm, we wipe our brow and wonder, in disbelief, at our own good fortune. - from The Fates Will Find Their Way, page 188 -

The Fates Will Find Their Way is a dreamy novel of half-truths and concealed motivations. Nothing is as it seems. There are no easy answers to the fate of Nora ... or for that matter, the fate of her sister. But the novel is less about the missing girl than about those who are left behind. Pittard leaves the reader with a shadowy tale that has no clear ending -- and perhaps this is what makes the book so compelling. Readers will bring their own perceptions, biases, and philosophies to this slim novel ... making this a book which will stimulate discussion.

Highly literary with a deep psychological edge, The Fates Will Find Their Way will appeal to readers who like haunting, metaphorical stories which examine the essence of what it means to be human.


  • Quality of Writing: Four and a half stars
  • Plot: Three and a half stars
  • Characters: Four stars

Overall Rating: Four stars out of five.

Catch all of Wendy Robard's reviews in her fabulous blog, "Caribousmom".


Article © Wendy Robards. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-04-11
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